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The Onset of Mood Swings During Menopause

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 19 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Menopause Mood Swings Emotions Womens

Mood swings can plague women during many different times of their lives, whether that involves monthly Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) or a very rocky day. Menopause is another significant time of mood swings for many women. In fact, the symptom is common enough that it has brought forth a stereotype of a raging, chaotic woman behaving in a crazy manner. However, this is far from the truth. While many women will suffer from mood swings as they approach menopause – and sometimes during postmenopause as well – the vast majority can apply communication skills and stress relieving techniques to handle their mood swings.

The First Symptoms of Menopause

Mood swings can actually be noticeable quite early on during the menopausal transition. For a number of women, mood swings will be the first symptom they notice and it can be a particularly frustrating one, especially for women who were previously very even-tempered. One menopause myth is that women who suffer from extreme PMS will suffer from extreme mood swings during menopause, but this is not the case. Each woman is unique in her menopause experience. Your previous history of PMS is not an indication that you will suffer from more extreme mood swings – or any mood swings at all.

Surgical Menopause

Women who experience surgical menopause may suffer more noticeable mood swings. The reasoning behind the effect involves the drastic reduction in hormones following surgery. One day a woman is fertile and reproductively capable, but the next she has sharply gone into menopause. Rather than gradually experiencing a shift in hormones, women who undergo surgical menopause may find that their symptoms are much more intense, which can include mood swings.

Getting the Support You Need

If you find that you are experiencing the mood swings of menopause, it's important to share your struggle with those who are close to you and will likely be noticing the effects. Rather than isolate yourself and ostracise your loved ones, explaining what you are going through can really help to clarify your challenges and reassure friends and family that any uncharacteristic words or actions are not meant to hurt. In this way, you can be open and honest with those who may – no matter how unintentional – be on the receiving end of your mood swings.

Handling Your Mood Swings

One of the most important lifestyle adjustments you can make is to eliminate or reduce stimulants such as caffeine, which can lead to yo-yo moods. High sugar foods can also cause blood sugar fluctuations as can low blood sugar from skipping meals. A balanced, healthy diet combined with exercise can stabilise your moods and reduce your mood swings.

Taking time out if you feel an angry type of mood swing approaching is also helpful because it allows you to remove yourself from a potentially dramatic situation. Practicing stress-relieving therapies such as massage, acupuncture, yoga or deep breathing exercises can further help to keep you calm, more even tempered and capable of handling mood swings as they occur. Some women may choose to take Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) to relieve mood swings, but this treatment does carry risks and must be recommended and monitored by a doctor.

Moving Beyond Mood Swings

Mood swings can be quite interfering in relationships and daily life. When they occur as a symptom of the menopausal transition, they may compound other stressful aspects of menopause such as irregular periods and hot flushes. In this way, your mood swings can be intensified by your challenge of handling the other symptoms of menopause. Fortunately, you can reduce your mood swings and handle those that do occur through lifestyle adjustments, improved communication skills and relaxation practices. Ultimately, this will allow you to feel – and act – more like your positive, happy self.

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